Freaks, Geeks, and More: Just Another Day at Green Lake


Spring is finally moseying its way here to Seattle and I’m sure many of you allergy-sufferers already know this by your loud constant sneezes.  You know it’s bad when you can actually see the fine green pollen dust collecting on your car windshield and so I too, sneeze with you in solidarity.  AH-CHOO!  The blooming spring blossoms budding with the promise of life and vitality have me reaching for more Kleenex.

But it’s May and I love it.  Let me explain why.

Despite all the sneezes, drippy nose, and Kleenex, I’m thankful for the longer daylight hours.  I’m grateful for the growing number of days we finally see the theoretical sun.  Its much-needed rays instill in me a jolt of hope and anticipation for upcoming lazy summer afternoons, BBQ, and the smell of freshly cut grass.  Two more months till “real summer” arrives in Seattle people, so buck up and get ready!

DH and I bit the bullet this past weekend.  We actually went out and bought patio furniture.  Rewind back to last year when we moved into our new house.  We didn’t quite get round to buying indoor, much less outdoor furniture.  No huge loss since last summer lasted like two weeks.  My guess that we wouldn’t have enough sunny days to actually justify the cost of patio furniture was proven correct last year.  I mean, what’s the point?  Patio furniture in Seattle is just a Petri dish for all kinds of weird fungus or algae.

But two weekends ago DH and I were blinded, temporarily caught up in Seattle’s collective euphoric bliss of an entirely sunny and warm weekend.  (Remember that epically gorgeous string of four straight sunny days two weeks ago??  People are STILL talking about it!)  We lost our minds, put on shorts and went out determined to buy (non-wood) patio furniture—as if our purchases would help to usher in the sunny days of summer sooner.  A bit of rationality and delayed gratification prevailed for a short while (we decided to wait a week) but we pulled the trigger this past weekend.

This funny behavior got me thinking about folks here in Seattle.  Sunny weather after a long dreary winter makes Seattle folks do strange things, things we normally wouldn’t do, like run out and buy patio furniture at the first two consecutive days of sun.  Once the spring sun peeks out on a weekend, we become overwhelmed with the many possibilities that have just opened up.  Should I get to work in the garden, or should I pump up those bike tires for an inaugural bike ride along the Burke Gilman?  Break out the picnic basket and book at Gasworks Park?  Come out of hibernation?  All of the above!

Well, this American Taitai and DH decided to go with the tried and true.  We capitalized on the gorgeous weekend weather by walking around Green Lake Park.  We actually went twice because it was so amazing and partially because we were paralyzed by all of the other options.  We didn’t want to waste the precious sunny weekend.

Ever since I was a college student new to Seattle, Green Lake Park has been one of my favorite places in Seattle.  It never disappoints, and you see all kinds of people there.  And by “all kinds” I mean “all kinds of interesting and crazy.”  I think sun-depravation has something to do with it.

But the Lake is beautiful, and has a different look during each season.  It always provides physical and emotional satisfaction.  I used to run around the Lake.  Now I walk, but I still always feel great after a brisk three-mile jaunt around the Lake.  And I’ve always left the Lake with a huge grin, usually from the various pets (both cute and ridiculous) that I’ve spotted throughout my walk.  I admit we do not have pets so I always suffer from a major case of dog envy when I leave the Lake.

Green Lake is the perfect spot for people and pet watching.  In addition to some ridiculously cute dogs, I’ve spotted a lot of everything at Green Lake.  Let me describe to you some of the usual sightings.

There is the typical Green Lake vegan/vegetarian/gluten-free health freak.  He’s lean and fit, gazelle-like in his rigorous dash around the Lake (along the outside gravel path.)  There is also the retired professor and other brainy-looking academics, as well as other tech geeks walking around the Lake while animatedly discussing some new scientific or tech breakthrough.  Bird-watchers armed with binoculars and notepads abound, as are leisurely fishermen who surround the periphery of the Lake.  A host of other typical Green Lakers include the Starbucks New Moms dressed in Lululemon, deftly pushing their babies in sleek jogging strollers while clutching a double-venti non-fat decaf chai latte in the other (inside paved path.)  Then there are the power-walkers, the dog walkers, the families, the visitors, the roller-bladers, and the cyclists.  The list goes on and on.

But let me also reveal to you another list I’ve been keeping in my head.  This is my running top five list of most memorable Green Lake sightings.  Some of these folks are regulars at the Lake.  It’s really too bad I’m never prepared or have a camera on hand ready to shoot when I encounter them.  But it’s probably a good thing (legally) that I don’t have photos to show you.  You get to use your imagination!

Let me start in reverse order:

5) Barefoot or Vibram FiveFingers (V5Fs) Runner:  You’ve probably seen a growing number of barefoot or V5Fs runners these days in Seattle.  You know what I’m talking about—runners wearing those ugly shoes with the individual black rubber wiggly-toe capsules?  (Incidentally, I’m wondering why they’re called FiveFingers and not something like “FiveToes” since it’s footwear we’re talking about here!)  Now I’m fully aware that the “minimalist running” movement is well underway, especially after the success of Christopher McDougall’s 2009 New York Times Bestseller, Born to RunStudies from researchers show the varying stress and impact results of heel-strike running vs. mid- and forefoot striking, but conclusions as to injury prevention seem to differ by individual.  But it’s only natural in Seattle (given the number of health freaks per capita here) to see the proliferation of minimalist runners around the Lake.  Now I’m not arguing against this (especially if runners are trying to avoid or recover from injuries) but I just personally think some of these folks look a little funny, especially when they’re spotted wearing their gorilla feet with regular clothes.  But what do I know?  I don’t run and I’m sure that any of these barefoot folks would smoke me.  But I don’t get the V5Fs.  They’re still SHOES (and expensive, I might add!)  But hey, if it works for you, then cool.  Tread lightly!

4) 70s Synchronized Roller-Skaters by the Community Center:  Just to clarify, these are roller-SKATERS (4 wheels, 2 on each side of the skate) and not roller-BLADERS (4+ wheels in 1 line down the middle of the skate.)  I’ve rarely seen roller skaters outside of a roller rink post-1986, but I do seem to see a lot of roller-skaters at Green Lake.  Now I’ve seen these folks during the summers and it is the coolest thing ever! You are immediately transported in a time machine back to the 1970s.  The video link here only shows two people, but I’ve seen a crowd of up to six or seven folks ALL dancing together in unison.  Sometimes they have a boom box playing 70s groove or disco music so that everyone can get the jive.  You can usually catch them next to the Green Lake Community Center on nice days.  Don’t forget to bring your 70s dance moves!

3) Ridiculous Pet Sighting of the Day:  So far, the recent winner of this category is a poor orange Persian spotted in a navy blue canvas shopping basket being wheeled around the Lake.  He/she did NOT look happy.  Fortunately the basket had an open mesh front side so that the Persian could see out the front, but kitty was clearly unimpressed and had a scowl on his/her face.  Perhaps the owners should consider an upgrade to something like this.

2) Pink Bunny Suit Guy in Roller-Skates:  Yes, roller-skates seem to be a theme here.  Well, earlier this year, I was making my way around the Lake when I heard the (now familiar) scratchy sound of roller-skates on asphalt coming up from behind me.  I moved towards the inside of the paved path (towards my left) and turned to my right.  I was curious about what was about to overtake me since the noises were so weird.  Soon, I caught a glimpse of a fuzzy large pink mass that swerved around me with “wheee-wheee” GEICO piggie noises to accompany the roller-skating sounds.  I was a little shocked when I saw a relatively large guy with a five-o-clock-shadow inside the pink bunny suit.  He looked like a pink version of Wilfred roller-skating by me, totally having the time of his life.  I haven’t seen him since, so maybe it was a dare.

1) Amazing Green Lake Cyclist + Cat Scarf:  This is my top sighting so far, and yes, it involves two of Seattle’s favorite things: Bikes and Cats!  The older Caucasian male biker was fully decked out with bike helmet, neon yellow vest and all the other spandex bike gear.  He was leisurely biking around the Lake in the designated outside lane.  But what was totally unique about this particular biker was that he had his orange tabby cat draped on his shoulders around the back of his neck like a fluffy orange scarf the whole time he was biking!  The orange tabby was amazingly calm and had his head peeking out from the left side of the biker’s head, paws limp and in the air.  Yes, this takes the cake in my top five Green Lake sightings.  What an amazing cyclist, and what an even more amazing cat!

And of course, DH and I caught the Amazing Green Lake Cyclist + Cat just two weeks ago during that beautiful (and most memorable) sunny weekend.

If the weather is nice again this weekend, you can be sure that I’ll be making the trek out to Green Lake again.  I wonder what I’ll see this coming weekend?  I hope you’ll come out and join me!